Lightning Seeds – Live Review – Leeds Stylus
By Victoria Holdsworth, November 2022
It has been a long hiatus for one of the most prolific indie bands of our generation, but tonight The Lightning Seeds are back, and bigger than ever!
After a solid and unwavering support slot from Badly Drawn Boy, the sold out crowd tonight are aching for Ian Broudie et al to step out onto the stage and perform some magic – and they would not disappoint.
Slinking out to pick up their instruments, they slip straight into a track from the new album, See You In The Stars, with the uplifting ‘Sunshine’, which could almost be a follow on to one of their biggest hits, ‘Pure’, which in itself is a musical masterpiece. The crowd are instantly hooked, its catchy riffs and melodies breaking out smiles across the packed Stylus. Even though it is a sell out, Broudie manages to make it an intimate affair, and he genuinely looks taken aback, looking at the audience singing his new track back to him.
Mixing it up for the next two songs with ‘Ready or Not’ and ‘Change’, both released before some of these audience members were even born, the set is taking shape, and it looks as though everyone is going to be up for a good night.
Joining Ian tonight on stage is his son Riley, and it is evidently clear just how much they enjoy playing together. The chemistry between Martyn Campbell on bass, Adele Emmas on keys and Jim Shamrock on drums gels beautifully, as they crack on with a personal favourite of mine, ‘All I Want’, from first album Cloudcuckooland. The lyrics are wonderfully apt when Broudie sings: ‘I can’t ignore or hide away/You can’t escape from the things that line our way/Take it, leave it, break it/Anyway you can get back to yesterday’. It is one of the stand out tracks of the night, but you would be hard pushed to find a bad song in the set list tonight – and there are more belters to come!
‘Lucky You’ gets everyone moving, and is a song that has really stood the test of time, with its outstanding harmonious layers grabbing hold of you and never letting go, quickly followed by the lyrically outstanding ‘Perfect’, released back in 1994 on the album Jollification.
The set tonight is peppered with some of the new tracks, and ‘Great To Be Alive’ is another pleasure to the ears. Broudie’s songwriting is sublime and so unique, and this track showcases that to the hilt.
“Full of vigour”
‘Feeling Lazy’ and ‘Sense’ hark back to a more synthy sound, before the guys slip into dreamscape mode with ‘What If’ and the beautifully crafted ‘Waiting For Today To Happen’, which is worthy of any soundtrack.
‘You Showed Me’, a Byrds cover, has been an advertising executive’s wet dream when it comes to picking a perfect song to catch the imagination, and this version is truly breathtaking, with some striking chords and vocal tones all blended into what can only be described as a perfect pop song.
‘Telling Tales’ is as lyrically stunning and surreal as ever, before stepping things up with another new track, ‘Losing You’, which is a real earworm and has some amazing guitar work punctuating every verse.
‘Emily Smiles’, which was co written by The Specials’ Terry Hall is outstanding. It’s upbeat freshness will make your auditory senses explode, and it sounds so good live. You can tell the band love playing it.
There’s another cover in the guise of ‘Whole Wide World’ by new wave singer-songwriter Wreckless Eric. One of post-punk’s finest singles, it was executed to perfection.
Saving some of the all time classic Lightning Seeds tracks until the end, they start to close the set on the highly charged ‘Sugar Coated Iceberg’ which is full of vigour and fuzz and building melodies which explode into an indie soundscape of brilliance. I am surrounded by smiles.
‘Pure’ follows, and in my humble opinion, it is hands down the best indie pop song ever written and needs no introduction. Truly one of the most captivating songs you will ever hear. The gig ends with a song written for Ian’s son and now band mate. ‘Life Of Riley’, with its drilling drum beats and sharp hooks, all beautifully strung together with some stunning keyboard work, shows that Broudie is still on top form with both his vocals and guitar playing, sounding smooth and as well polished as ever.
The first encore song is an explosive version of ‘Marvellous’, released back in 1995, with Broudie coaxing even the most stubborn members of the crowd up onto their feet to sing along, before the inevitable ‘Three Lions’ sees one of the biggest and loudest singalongs of the whole night.
The Lightning Seeds are an outstanding testament to our British music scene, with Ian Broudie constantly showcasing the best of British songwriting, and tonight they really dished out the sunshine, on what was going to be a cold, drab night in Leeds. Long may they continue spreading the joy.